You have to think that Antioch High School’s football players have been thinking about this game since summer workouts began.
Not the game the Sequoits played on Saturday afternoon — a 72-7 drubbing of host North Chicago (0-7, 0-5) on Saturday afternoon that was over quickly, as the visitors (6-1, 4-0) scored 58 points in the first half.
Rather, it’s the game Antioch will play next Friday night against school-district rival Lakes (6-1, 4-0) which will decide the North Suburban Conference Prairie Division title.
Lakes has ruled the division for three years now, and has won 19 consecutive league games by 17 or more points. That includes two wins over Antioch.
Against North Chicago, just about everything Antioch tried worked. The Sequoits were led offensively by junior running back Griffin Hill who, in his half of action, returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a score, found the end zone on runs of 5, 33 and 3 yards, and also caught a 24-yard pass.
Antioch had 304 rushing yards in the first 24 minutes, with Jacob Lanahan getting 129 of them on six touches, with one going for a TD.
The other first-half scores were a 16-yard return with a blocked punt by Matt Stiglic, a 64-yard run by Dan Meade, and a 24-yard pass play from fullback Alan Taylor to Nick Andre — the latter a play likely run to give Lakes something to think about in practice this coming week.
In the second half, Antioch’s TDs were scored by T.J. Pilaczk and Nicholas Hairrell.
North Chicago’s points came on a 66-yard run by Undra Smith.
“The message this week is going to be to stay focused on the goal,” said Hill. “ We talk about taking things one game at a time. Of course, you always have future goals in mind, but it’s not the future anymore. This is the here and now.
“Every single practice, every single snap, has to be about getting us prepared for Friday,” Hill added. ”If we can do that, we’re going to have a pretty good shot.”
Grant Hackeloer, asenior linebacker and defensive captain, also knows that Friday’s game will be the team’s biggest challenge to date.
“It’s going to take total teamwork and focus, starting tomorrow, through every practice and every workout,” he said. “We have to focus this entire week and come out playing our best, because we expect them to come out playing their best.”
In the coaching box, Antioch’s veteran head man Brian Glashagel always looks for improvement rather than W’s.
“It’s always about us and what we need to do to get better every week. Next week is a huge game, but for both us and Lakes it’s not a make-or-break game,” the coach said. “It’s going to be a great regular-season game. It’s great for the district.
“When is the next time we’re going to be in this situation, as two 6-1 teams? I don’t know,” he added. “It might not happen for a long, long time. However, I think both us and them are thinking down the road. A division title is great. No doubt about it. It’s great for the fan base. However, you can ask either of us: we’ll take a state-championship ring over a division plaque hanging in the hallway.”